The 2021 Cast
Mariyahna “Mari” Sallis
Mariyahna “Mari” Sallis is a 15 year old dancer who experienced her first dance class when she was 4 years old. Her interest and love for dance grew from there. At age 6, she was asked to join her first Competition/Performance Company. As a company member, she gained a deeper understanding of hard work, commitment and how training strategy enhances performance quality. Mari won several 1st place and performance awards as a competition dancer. She has also enjoyed showcasing her talent at various events around Central Florida. Although trained in a number of dance genres, she loves modern, contemporary and ballet. Mari has left the competition world to solely focus on performance. She is currently a member of the Inez Patricia School of Dance Company, where she trains under Jeré James and her staff of talented instructors. For Mari, dance is her ultimate form of expression. Mari definitely envisions dance as a permanent fixture in her life. One of her goals is to dance for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.
Chocolate Nutcracker Prince
Dominiq Luckie was raised in Jacksonville, Fla. where he trained at LaVilla School of the Arts, followed by Jacksonville Center of the Arts. Later, he traded football for Douglas Anderson School of the Arts and trained at Next Generation Ballet. He competed in the 2017 Youth American Grand Prix and was top six in both classical and contemporary. This is Dominiq’s second season with Ballet Memphis.
Sugar Plum Fairy
Laura was born February 2002 in Colombia where she spent most of her childhood. In 2013 she and her family relocated in Orlando. Throughout her life she has participated in various after school activities and sports but she never felt like she belonged until she discovered dance. Laura started her dance training in 2015 at The Center for Contemporary Dance where she joined the pre-professional training program as well as the ballet and contemporary ensembles. In 2018, she joined Inez Patricia School of Dance as well as the company to continue her training. She has now become an IPSOD alumni and continues her dance training at the school. Although she continues to train daily in several dance styles, ballet is where she has found her love and passion. Laura has many interests, she is certified in medical assisting and is currently attending school for biomedical science and clinical psychology. Nonetheless, she aspires to continue dancing simultaneously with the hope of joining a professional company where she can later develop further into the world of choreographing as well. She is eager to continue growing and learning and is excited to see what the future holds.
Mark Rizo is 25 years old. He started his dance training at the age of 15, where he trained in ballet, modern & contemporary at The Center For Contemporary Dance in Winter Park, FL. After his first year of training, he got accepted into the Joffrey Ballet School's summer intensive program on full scholarship, where he was choreographed by Brian McSween & previous NDT member Africa Guzman. He continued the rest of his training at the Orlando Ballet School & Inez Patricia School of Dance. Mark attended Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre & was apart of their Independent & Scholarship Program. Mark also danced in Nimbus 2 in Jersey City after his time at Alvin Ailey, where he was able to perform for various schools and venues. Today, Mark teaches Adv Contemporary & hopes to one day inspire and motivate his dancers to their fullest potential.
Ezra Ben Kaniyah
Ezra Ben Kaniyah. 26 years old. Born and raised in St.Louis, Missouri. 20+ years of drumming experience under the leadership of Sunshine Lee, Weesie Braimah, Atur Eleeahsah, Asaur Owens, & Caph Geui.
Fourteen year old violinist extraordinaire Leah Flynn, aspires to be an African- American solo concert violinist with a steady presence. Leah attends weekly violin lessons with her teacher Dr. Agnes Hsu and was the State winner for Florida Federation of Music Clubs for Violin Concerto Junior II competition in May 2019 and the winner of The New Talent International Strings Competition children's group in August 2019.
Leah joined the Metropolitan Area Youth Symphony in Orlando at age six and was Concertmaster for three years for their Intermezzo and Repertory groups at ages seven, eight and nine. Leah made her debut with the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra at age 8 and has guested four times with the Orchestra. Leah has also performed for Bishop T.D. Jakes, The NAACP National Convention in 2016, 2017, the 2016 White House Christmas Tours, and many other local events .
Leah is in ninth grade at Trinity Preparatory School in Winter Park. Her hobbies include singing, reading and playing the piano. Leah aspires to combine her love for others and playing the violin in her future endeavors.